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Marvel Diversity

Dee Yun Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2016-09-30 16:56:37

Marvel Diversity

Eventually the Marvel roster will return to status quo, and the iconic roles will once again be filled by the ranks of Caucasian males. For the time being, they're generally doing a solid job of telling interesting stories about interesting characters.

I'm taken aback by some of the backlash from a specific sector of the fan base. Replacing characters in key titles always smacks of gimmickry, but nobody cried like this the umpteen times Bruce Wayne was temporarily replaced by another white male Batman. It makes me think that there would be a substantial market for "Aryan Comics" filled with heroes defending a wall built across the length of lily-skinned, patriarchal, hetero-normative borders.

On the flip side, there's always more progress required. It's a positive turn to see racial and gender diversity in the Marvel lineup, but the real misstep is the lack of diversity in creative. Characters like Luke Cage were created by white males during the blaxploitation era. Iron Fist reminds me of David Carradine starring in Kung Fu because Bruce Lee was deemed "too Chinese" for a lead role. That kind of racism tends to stick with you, informing you that you're simply not acceptable by society's standards. It would be good to see more comics writers and artists who are minorities, who would have the perspective to correct certain misperceptions.

For example, the Iron Man title is being reforged as "Ironheart". That's all well and good. It sounds like Tony Stark needs a breather, and if the next genius up happens to be an African-American teenage girl, so be it. The problem that's arising, however, is that talented and well-meaning white male creators are depicting her through THEIR cultural lens. She's supposed to be fifteen, but visually depicted as...let's say, "mature". There's this whole issue with her hair, which is a cultural hot button for African-Americans. The concern is that this character will be portrayed in a manner consistent with how white male dominated culture desires to view young black females.

Is this a big deal? Well, compared to unarmed black men being executed in the streets, not even remotely. But perpetuating biased modes of thought is symptomatic of that same disease. Am I playing the race card here? Sure. But what I'm trying to share is that the minority experience is like being dealt a bad hand. Repeatedly. Throughout your life. Some of it constitute minor annoyances. Some, traumatic injustices. So whenever I hear certain comic book fans crying that "They're taking away my heroes" (i.e. "We don't have absolutely everything anymore"), I can't help but roll my eyes at the egregious indignities that they are forced to endure.

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